To the editor:

I am a concerned resident of Andover, and on this below-freezing October morning my family and I are still without heat following the Merrimack Valley gas crisis.

Last week a team from Columbia Gas condemned all of the appliances in our home including a cooktop, two furnaces and a water boiler. With all of our appliances needing to be replaced, shouldn’t we readily be given the option to switch to electric appliances for the sake of long-term cost savings, meeting future climate goals, and avoiding another gas-related tragedy?

I believe yes, and if you are one of the thousands impacted by this crisis, especially those still without gas today, you absolutely should too.

Although my home is without gas, my family has had no shortage of hot water due to the installation of an electric hot water heater. Although Columbia Gas did provide our home with the $1,800 for this upgrade, I believe its efforts don’t go far enough.

Since all of our appliances were condemned, we sought other ways we could retrofit our home for cost-savings. We had hoped to install an electric home heating system when we were told these alternatives (heat pumps and mini-split AC/heating) “do not represent a like-for-like replacement of impacted equipment and appliances.” So, we were forced to settle for a similar, gas-powered system as was previously installed.

A mounting body of research has found that electric AC/heating technologies are growing increasingly affordable. These technologies have been shown to save consumers thousands of dollars over the life of the appliance.

Not only is Columbia Gas restricting consumer choice, it is ignoring its responsibility to address issues of climate change.

The leading authority on climate science, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released a report indicating humankind has until 2030 to generate the globe’s energy from entirely renewable sources in order to avoid catastrophic damage to human life. Now, I realize the urgency to act swiftly in the wake of the gas crisis, but with the proper execution I believe this tragedy could have been transformed into a proactive initiative combatting climate change.

 

The circumstance of those affected by the gas crisis, although unfortunate, lends itself to our communities taking a revolutionary step toward a sustainable future. Hundreds of homes now have the opportunity to be retrofit with all-electric appliances, but Columbia Gas is standing in the way of such change.

The actions of Columbia Gas, such as rescinding full reimbursement for electric mini-split AC/heating systems, are simply unfounded and unjust. By reinstalling “like” systems, we are settling for the status quo. We’ll need to remove these installations by 2030 to reach our renewable energy goals.

How is this an intelligent allocation of resources, if this effort needs be repeated in 10 years’ time?

Overall, I believe the handling of the Merrimack Valley gas crisis is short-sighted and harms consumers who, through a subsequent electric retrofit or higher annual utilities, will ultimately foot the bill.

Sam Kefferstan

Andover